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The Unofficial Bearhawk FAQ

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About the FAQ

This FAQ was largely put together by Del Rawlins. He asked for volunteers to take it over and I blindly held up my hand. I guess I didn't have enough to do...yea, right. Anyway, here it is. I cannot take credit for it but I will attempt to keep it up to date and add as much to it as humanly possible.

Nearly all of this information already exists online in the message archives from the Bearhawk e-mail list, the newsgroup rec.aviation.homebuilt (RAH) and the various websites created by individual builders. A great deal of the material contained herein has been shamelessly lifted from these sources; whenever I do this I will use italic text and try my best to keep the attributions correct. By doing this I will hopefully save the reader from sorting through several hundred individual messages.

I want to make it absolutely clear that I am in no way affiliated with Bob Barrows, the Bearhawk designer (except as a satisfied customer), or AviPro Aircraft, the kit manufacturer (neither of whom have endorsed this FAQ website). When in doubt, you should contact them, since they are the real experts. This information carries no warranty whatsoever-- you and you alone are responsible for the safe construction and operation of your aircraft.

If you have any further questions about the FAQ, please don't hesitate to email me.

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Just what is a Bearhawk anyway?

From Paul Beam's (now defunct) website:
The Bearhawk is a 4-place design with generous proportions and superior performance. The design parameters were for a heavy hauling BIG airplane with a good cruise speed and economical operation. The prototype Bearhawk (N6890R) is powered by a 170 hp Lycoming O-360 set up to burn auto fuel. The Bearhawk has an all metal wing with a fabric covered steel tube fuselage and tail feathers. A Pitts style nosebowl, wheels, brakes, and Cessna windshield and modified lift struts are the only airframe components not built by the homebuilder.

For an up-to-date cost to build and number of hours to build, see Eric Newton's website.

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Where can I buy a kit?

As of July 2002, AviPro Aircraft is shipping Bearhawk kits from their factory in Mexico. Several kit packages are now being manufactured for builders who may not have the time, fabrication skills, or desire to build from scratch, or to help plans builders finish their aircraft at a more rapid pace. For more information, visit their website at www.bearhawkaircraft.com. You still have to buy the plans from Bob Barrows, even if you build from a kit.

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Where can I buy a builders manual?

Eric Newton publishes a very detailed set of manuals that he has put together while building his Bearhawk. These come highly recommended and will easily pay for themselves many times over. Check out his site and save yourself a ton of time!

AviPro also offers an assembly manual for kit builders. It has a lot of great information and is a good way to get started. I highly recommend you get the AviPro manual and Eric's scratchbuild manuals no matter how you are putting your Bearhawk together. These two references do not duplicate information. You will see different stuff in both of them. You just can't have enough information.

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How long does it take to build?

dwwarren wrote:

> Are there any realistic time frames on Bearhawk Completions? Hours
> required to build said airplane with no previous experience.

On Tue, 28 Sep 1999 Tim wrote:

Time....always an interesting subject in HBuilding;

Just a guess, but I'd say 2000-2500hrs, that is unless Al Dunlap of Arlington-Wash, was building it. He has over 10,000 logged hours over a period of a decade on his Longeze...What the Hell, it's a hobby, right?

Tim Cramb
Cold Lake
Forward Speed 'is' Lift/Life!

On Tue, 28 Sep 1999, Mike Meador wrote:

Well - this is a good question and it is one that we get a lot. We usually tell people that it will take approximately 2000 hours to build the BEARHAWK if you have never built anything before. To put that in perspective that is about 40 hours a week for one year, most people can only work on their project much less than 4 hours a day. If you can work on your airplane EVERY DAY at least for two hours, your time will be cut by 1/4 because you will have a building rhythm.

Now none of what I have told you can be proven - just sort of a historical observation. I know guys that can knock out one plane a year (from plans) and others that claim to have 6 or 7000 hours in a single kit-built airplane.

The amount of time that it will take really depends on you - you will have to give something up if you want to make time to work on your airplane. I have, for example, given up most TV - it is a waste of time anyway - that right there gives me 20 or more hours in a week. (OK - so I do sneak in a football game or two).

You can't go into a project like this thinking "OK - I'll have this thing knocked out by next year." - it will not work. You will have to enjoy building just as much or even more than you do flying. You really need to work on your project a little each day, everyday. If you need an airplane then buy one, if you want a BEARHAWK you will have to build it and that is going to take a lot of time.

As for actual time reports - we have received only 3, all for the wings. 575 for Ray Thurston (an experienced builder and retired). 700 and 1020 from two first time builders. Judging that the wing is the most complicated and has the most individual pieces for each single assembly, we feel it is safe to say that when you have your wings done you are about half way.

We would like to hear more from the builders on this subject.

Later - Mike

On Tue, 28 Sep 1999 Russ Erb wrote:

Let me put in my input for the upper 3 sigma. I recently added up the building log, and I've passed 1800 hours. So I'm 90% done, right?

In that time, here's where I am:

- One flap assembled, one about to be riveted
- Aileron parts ready for assembly
- Wing steel parts 98% complete (remainder need to be fabricated on assembly)
- Wing parts ready for assembly


Everyone counts hours differently. My time includes time redrawing plans in CADD for dimension check/analysis/modification plus fabricating jigs and tooling.

I'm on the high time corrosion control program (alodine and prime all aluminum parts, prime steel parts). That adds over 300 hours so far.

The more picky and precise you are, the longer it will take to build. Of course, the payoff is a better airplane.

I suspect the times quoted by Mike are not including as many activities as I am.


The important thing is not so much how much time you have logged on your project, as is maintaining a reasonable building RATE. If you keep the rate up, someday you'll suddenly notice that it's time to go fly. If you don't keep the rate up, you'll never get there.

#164, Edwards CA

Also check out Eric Newton's website. He has a complete build time log.

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How much does it cost to build from plans?

Good question, and there are as many answers as there are Bearhawk builders. Simply put, there are so many different options for equipment that it will be really difficult to come up with an accurate figure. Even 2 otherwise identical Bearhawks may vary in cost to build depending on where and how the materials are purchased. R & B estimates $6000-8000 in materials to construct the basic airframe less engine and instruments, which is probably a good starting point.

The best way to come up with a good estimate is probably to go over the plans and compile a materials list which can be cross referenced with prices from your suppliers. This has been done for you if you don't feel like doing it yourself. Go to this page in the FAQ to find this information. You can also join the Bearhawk group on Yahoo and look in the files section. There you will find a spreadsheet with this information. You will also find a ton of other great information in the files section. Not to mention that any question you need answered will be answered by the guys on the Bearhawk group.

One of the nicest things about the Bearhawk, is that as a plans-built project there is no need to buy materials any faster than you can build, so the cost can be spread more or less evenly throughout the entire building period. Of course that doesn't take into account the spike in the spending curve when it comes time to buy an engine and instruments.

Also check out Eric Newton's website. He has a complete expense log.

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Del's Suggested Voluntary Posting Guidelines for the Bearhawk Group
(Includes suggestions by Benton Holzwarth and Russ Erb)

1. Don't call for changes to the posting rules for the group. They
are not needed, exacerbate the perceived problem, and besides, Tim is
going to run it as he sees fit anyway.

2. If you want to see fewer OT posts, make fewer OT posts. This
includes OT posts bitching about OT posts. If you want to bring up
the on-topic ratio, post something on-topic.

3. If you want to discuss religion/politics/younameit, we enjoy that
here, so go ahead and speak your mind. Once you have done so, leave
it at that if you have nothing new to add. Continued arguing won't
change anything and may lead to hard feelings among friends.

4. Personal attacks directed at other group members will not be
tolerated, so keep them to yourself.

5. Don't post large attachments/pictures to the group. Learn to
upload them to the group site or to another picture hosting site, and
then post a link to the list. That way those who wish to view them
may do so, and the rest of the group won't get force-fed the pictures.

6. Please trim old/non-relevant portions from quoted text before
posting. We've seen it all before, and it is particularly annoying
to those group members who receive the digest version of the list.
Please don't reply to a digest, reposting the entire digest with a
'Me too!' comment at the top.

7. Please feel free to change the subject line as the content drifts.
In particular, add or remove the 'OT' mark as appropriate. If you
receive the digest version and wish to make a reply, change the subject
line to something more descriptive of the content than "digest #XXX."

8. If you use an operating system and/or email software that is
vulnerable to viruses, please do the group a favor and keep your
virus software engaged and up to date.

9. If you feel the need to leave the group, please refrain from
sending a parting shot as you go. And don't let the door hit you in
the ass on your way out.

10. We believe in freedom, including Freedom of Speech. The computer age
brings us a new freedom--the freedom to use the "Delete" key. If you are
annoyed by someone else exercising his freedom of speech, feel free to
exercise your right to the delete key.

To paraphrase something: "No one ever said you had to read every message
that comes into your Inbox."

For more information on how to join the Bearhawk email group, visit the
group website at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bearhawk/.

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How can I effectively search the Bearhawk Yahoo group archives?

Well, there is a good way to do this but it is a secret. :>) You have to join one of the Bearhawk groups on Yahoo in order to find out the secret.

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Can I build it?

On May 20, 2000, Mike wrote:
> >The Bearhawk has the widest operating range I have seen reported and is
> >probably the most usable aircraft I could hope to own. My concern with
> >it is the building process. I have limited building experience to draw
> >from. I am confident I could learn 95% of the necessary skills but, to
> >do so, I would really need specific instructions on how to do things.
> >My understanding from the e-group, BD pirep, web sites and a phone
> >conversation with Bob Barrows is that the only instructions provided
> >are the aircraft plans, with some additional info in the newsletter. I
> >really don't want to find myself in a situation where I have a set of
> >plans, wonderfully drawn though they may be, without a clue as to how
> >to make the parts indicated in them. Now, to the meat of my question
> >(finally). Is there a source of information that will enable me to
> >learn how I can take a pile of aluminum and steel tube and make it look
> >like the components drawn in the plans. If it is realistic to think I
> >can build a Bearhawk, it would be my preferred aircraft. Unless
> >instructions specific enough for a first time builder are available, I
> >will probably chose to build a Zenair STOL CH-801. What are your
> >thoughts folks?
> >
> >Thanks, Mike

Dan Fox replied:
> Another resource you can look into is the EAA SportAir Academy
> (www.sportair.com). This is Ron Alexander's company (he used
> to have a parts company which name escapes me now - it got
> swallowed by the bigger fish and is now Aircraft Spruce East,
> or some such). It runs a series of weekend seminars in various
> locations across the country. They have titles like "Intro to
> Homebuilding", "Welding for the Homebuilder", "Basic Aircraft
> Fabric Covering Techniques", "Aircraft Sheet Metal Work" and the
> like (I'm paraphrasing here). For $250 - $300 plus any travel
> and lodging you might incur, it's a GREAT way to get your feet
> wet and build experience and confidence in the tools & techniques
> needed. I'm attending my 3rd in a few weeks.
> That having been said, I will repeat the mantra everyone else is
> telling you. It's not "location, location, location", it's not
> "The Economy, Stupid!", it's "Join your local EAA chapter, Join
> your local EAA chapter, Join your local EAA chapter!"
> Usual disclaimers: I have no financial interest in either
> Sportair or the EAA (except to send them money from time to time).
> I will state that Sportair offers discounts both to EAA members,
> and to Sportair alumni.

> --dan fox

Bob Romanko offered the following sage advice:

Dan, you offer Mike some great advice, and let me add a bit more:

Mike, the EAA is a great start, but it won't finish your plane. Equating joining the EAA and finishing an airplane is like saying if I step into a church I turn into a Christian. The association is good, and you will gain knowledge if you're a member. Knowledge is needed to build the parts that make the assemblies that go together to form an airplane. Knowledge is cheap.

Anyone with a brain, a decent eye, and a steady hand can build parts. The secret to building a Bearhawk, or a CH-801, or an "insert name here", isn't the knowledge or skills one has. In fact, it doesn't even matter whether the aircraft design is any good or not. Skills can be developed, and when you're bending a rib or welding a cage you're not thinking much about STOL, the airfoil the designer used, or your payload. You're thinking of building a part. It really boils down to whether or not you enjoy the building process.

Sure, a Bearhawk is an incredible plane. No one here will deny that. Heck, if they were certified I'm sure that Bob Barrows would sell gobs of them. Still, just because it's an awesome design doesn't mean you will build one. In fact, you could attend every Sportair workshop there is, commit to memory every book Tony Bingelis ever wrote, and surf rec.aviation.homebuilt till you know Badwater Bill on a first name basis. I'd even say you could go on and get your A&P ticket and STILL not finish your Bearhawk. Why? Simple. You have to like the build process. Notice I didn't say you have to like the plane. What? Blasphemy!

No. Not really. My wife has an uncle who's nearly finished with a Volksplane. He is doing a great job with it. Heck, it's like a piece of furniture. Problem is 'ol Scott decided about three years ago he wanted a two seater instead. Still, you'll find Scott out there in the garage just plowing forward with his single-seat VP-1. How is that? He likes to build planes. If you enjoy the process, it really doesn't matter much what you're building. Of course if you like to build and like what you're building, it makes it that much more likely you'll have a completion.

Sure. There are probably folks out there who managed to build a plane they loved in spite of the hell they went through building it. These are few and far between. You'll read more about these folks in Trade-a-Plane as they sell their projects than you will in 'Sport Aviation' in the completions section. Theirs is a classic love/hate relationship. Loved the plane, hated the process.

Then you have the Bob Barrows' of the world. These guys love to build. Shoot, the Bearhawk wasn't even meant to be duplicated. Bob needed a plane to haul parts, drew up the Bearhawk, and built one for himself. When folks went nuts at Oshkosh and Budd Davisson (thanks, Budd) wrote his Pirep in the October '95 'Sport Aviation' the plane started to really catch on. Bob realized he needed to verify the plans, so he build a SECOND set of wings just as a proof-of-plans. I saw them hanging up in his hangar in Fincastle. To take it a step further, Bob went ahead and build a SECOND Bearhawk, Prototype II, and hung a Lycoming 540 in it swinging a three-blade prop he BUILT. When I grow up, I want to be Bob Barrows (grin).

So you see, it's not what you know or who you hang around with. It's what you like to do in your spare time. Dan offered you an excellent suggestion. Go to a Sportair Workshop and bend some aluminum. See if you like it. If you're not the greatest rivet pounder when you leave, don't sweat it. Those skills come with practice. Think more of how you like the activity than how good you are. You probably will only need the sheet metal course, since the wings take about quite a bit of time to build. When you get to the point where you need some steel in there, take the welding course.

Attending a workshop is a cheap way to find out if you like banging parts. As far as whether you can (will) build a Bearhawk, you'll be able to answer that question for yourself when you walk out of your first seminar.

For what it's worth...

Bob Romanko
Bearhawk #399
Charlottesville, VA
A&P (but I like the process!)

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There are no measurements on the plans, how do I read these things?

The lack of measurements on the drawings frustrated me at first but then I realized that the drawings are all very accurate and drawn to scale. Any measurements not shown, just measure the distance and multiply by the scale.

The other thing you will run up against in the drawings is that some measurements are given as fractions (i.e 4 3/4") and others are given in .100's of an inch (i.e. 4.750"). Either get a ruler that measures in decimals or use the conversion chart that I put in the files section of this yahoo group.

The "T" sizes chart is shown on drawing 16 which is the first of the fuselage drawing sand the first drawing that refers to "T" size tubes.

As to positioning of the ribs, again, scale to the drawing. If you get it correct, the ribs on the horizontal stab will line up with the ribs on the elevator.


Eric Newton - Long Beach, MS

BH #682

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I've finished my Bearhawk. Who can I contact to have it professionally flight tested?

Jim Clevenger of the Bearhawk Builder's Assistance Center in Kissimmee Florida can perform flight testing of completed Bearhawks along with a final inspection. You will still have to get your aircraft inspected by the FAA or a DAR first. Jim may be contacted via telephone at 407-361-2580.

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